February 10, 2016 - 11:43 AM
KAMLOOPS - The main group in support of the proposed performing arts centre failed to sway enough voters in the November referendum, even after outspending all other groups.
Four groups submitted disclosure statements to Elections B.C. — the Kamloops Central Business Improvement Association, Friends of the Performing Arts Centre, Performing Arts Centre Not Yet and the Yes Committee for the Kamloops Performing Arts Centre.
The largest campaign, financially, was the Yes Committee for the Kamloops Arts Centre, which received nearly $14,000 from 12 donors. More than half of the money came from not-for-profit organizations and arts organizations, while Tourism Kamloops was their largest single contributor, with a total of $5,000. Even though the central business association ran their own ads, the business group contributed $2,500 to the main yes campaign as well.
Donations to the PAC Not Yet group came primarily from local businesses, and totaled more than $10,000. The main contributor was Red Apple Holdings, a property developent company, which put up $2,500 towards the campaign. The next largest contributors were Mary MacGregor Law and a private citizen with $1,500 in contributions. Three-quarters of the no campaign’s funding came from local businesses and none came from not-for-profits.
The Kamloops Central BIA and Friends of the Performing Arts Centre both had advertising costs under $500 and did not have to disclose where the money came from. None of the campaigns claimed money from the City of Kamloops in their statements to Elections B.C.
The city purchased the former Kamloops Daily News building shortly after the newspaper closed down. Last spring the city put forth a $90-million proposal for a performing arts centre and parking complex for that property. The yes campaigns came out swinging, providing a lot of reasons why the community should vote 'yes' for the project. In October the PAC Not YET group formed and began the process of getting the community to ask more questions before approving such a large project.
In the end less than 32 per cent of eligible voters cast a ballot in the referendum, with more than 53 per cent saying 'no' to the city acquiring the estimated $49-million debt load required to go forward with the project.
The city is now trying to determine what to do with the property.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016